Out of all the things that excited me about college life- doing my own laundry was not on the list. (Full disclosure: I am ashamed to admit it, but my mom did my laundry up until senior of high school.) The first time I trudged down the stairs of my residence hall, lugging a cumbersome bag of un-washed clothes over my shoulder and carrying a bottle of Tide detergent in hand, I felt only resentment. I had better things to do than separate my lights and darks. (Please keep in mind this was freshman year- I’d like to think I’ve matured since then.)
When I finally entered the laundry room resentment was replaced by intimidation. The machines stared at me menacingly. It was like they knew how inexperienced I was. They were looking down at my lack of domestic skills with condescension. if I wasn’t careful, they would turn all my crisp white shirts a washed out shade of pink. I nearly trembled.
No. I would not let myself be daunted by some inanimate objects. Gritting my teeth in determination I approached the washing machine and began transferring my laundry from the bag to the machine. I would conquer this.
Well friends, if you must know, I did not get through my first load of laundry without not one, but two calls to my dear mother. (“What do you mean the temperature of the water matters?!”) Also, if I’m being perfectly honest, I did put the detergent in the wrong compartment. There is likewise a very good chance I simply dumped the detergent in there without measuring it out first. Who really pays attention the fill lines on the cap anyway?
Yet, despite all my blunderings, I felt something else as I watched the water pour over my clothes through the window of the washing machine, staring transfixed as my load began to spin and tumble around. I felt a strange sense of accomplishment. Later, when I tossed the wet bundles into the dryer, now cleansed of stains and unappealing smells, I felt a sense of pleasure. Then, when I pulled them from the dryer, (warm, clean, and smelling faintly of Tide detergent), I was overwhelmed with immense satisfaction.
As I folded my garments and placed them in their respective drawers, I was beaming. I was the reason they were now fresh and ready for their second wear. I had created a new beginning. Silly as it might sound, I felt like I was growing up.
People will give you a lot of advice before you go off to college, about how you’re going to need to really step it up because your parents aren’t there to take care of you anymore, and how you’re going to learn to take care of yourself. It always sounded pretty daunting, at least to me. Here’s what they don’t tell you: it’s fun! Tackling these tasks of adulthood is exhilarating, and each time you conquer a new responsibility it prepares you for the next one.
Then again, maybe I’m just overly excited about the fact that I haven’t turned a shirt pink yet.